Each March, the New Jersey Press Foundation (NJPF) selects the winners from hundreds of entries in its NJ College Newspaper Contest. This year, Montclair State University’s student-run news organization, The Montclarion, was a big winner, scoring nine awards in total – including six first, one second and two third place awards. The awards were presented at an awards ceremony on April 13.
“These awards are a recognition of the outstanding, innovative work being done by the talented student journalists at The Montclarion,” says School of Communication and Media Director Keith Strudler. “At a time when the world more than ever needs dedicated, professional journalists able to create content across a range of platforms, these students are rising to the challenge of becoming the media leaders of tomorrow.”
According to Haley Wells, editor in chief of The Montclarion, the paper entered 24 articles in total in 11 of 14 possible contest categories. “We had six first place wins and we placed in seven out of the 11 categories we entered.”
“Writing is the core of great journalism,” says Wells. “These awards really focus on the writing of the articles, which just goes to show how important great writing and reporting are to a news organization.”
Montclarion journalists’ excellence in writing was recognized with first place awards in news, feature, and arts and entertainment/critical stories, and a second place award for editorial writing.
As a multi-platform news organization, The Montclarion excelled in non-writing categories as well, winning a first for photography and picking up firsts and thirds in the web project and online video categories.
“This is a huge win for The Montclarion,” says Head of Journalism and Television/Digital Media Professor Tara George, who is the faculty advisor for The Montclarion.
“In the last four years, the students and I have worked to develop the multi-platform digital nature of the paper while still respecting its print roots. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but this win is the culmination of four years of hard work by a lot of hard-working students,” George explains. “With their wins, they have proven not just that they are awesome, but that they are awesome across multiple platforms.”
Award-wining reporting covered everything from the aftermath of the November snowstorm to how a hijab can impact everyday life, from a critique of Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind to a profile of student artist Joe Baez.
Montclarion staff members who landed wins include Wells, Assistant Entertainment Editor Sharif Hasan; Video Editor Mackenzie Robertson and video team member Adrian Maldonado. News Editor Heather Berzak, former Opinion Editor Sunah Choudhry, former Entertainment Editor Robert O’Connor and Opinion Editor Rebecca Serviss are among those who contributed to the winning awards.
“These awards really exemplify how hard we worked and how hard we will continue to work,” says Wells.